African American Political Thought and American Culture: The by Alex Zamalin PDF

By Alex Zamalin

ISBN-10: 1137528109

ISBN-13: 9781137528100

ISBN-10: 1349553093

ISBN-13: 9781349553099

In African American Political inspiration and American Culture, Alex Zamalin argues that African American writers James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison extend the bounds of yankee political inspiration and perform. those 3 writers uniquely reimagined center American beliefs corresponding to freedom, democratic dedication, and generosity, demonstrating that the perform of those values in daily life, along the enactment of public rules and laws, is vital for attaining racial justice. via a traditionally and politically grounded studying in their paintings, Zamalin demonstrates that getting to those insights illuminates a formerly unrecognized element of 20th century African American political concept and highbrow existence, and divulges a robust and energizing resource within the modern fight for racial equality.

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6 But Baldwin always resisted thinking about freedom in ways understandable to Americans. Freedom was not alive in ways American patriots believed. 7 Equally puzzling was his belief that freedom was something private and existential. ”8 Emphasizing freedom rather than liberty meant eschewing the debate about its political manifestations. 9 He also refused to follow the modern tradition of natural rights thinking, which believed freedom was synonymous with birth. At the same time, he did not think freedom was synonymous with willpower or something that simply needed to be protected or facilitated by the state.

Ellison was always a bleeding-heart patriot despised by the American youth, while Baldwin and Morison were ambivalently patriotic like Socrates, who criticized Athenian laws but ultimately accepted his punishment because of his civic love. Yet the grave offence for which Socrates would be tried and punished—corrupting the youth by asking them to personally examine their deepest commitments and ­values—could be attributed to all three in their critique of Cold War American exceptionalism and demonstration of American liberalism’s exclusionary and paternalistic impulses.

The novel instead shows how racial justice is impossible through conditional generosity, which promotes a hierarchical relationship and limits recipients’ ability to obtain and construct their own account of the good. As an alternative, it shows that unconditional generosity is crucial for racial justice because it assumes all individuals to have equal moral worth, to be capable of moral agency and to be inescapably subject to a condition of vulnerability. The conclusion argues that the insights gleaned from the work of these three writers could meaningfully inform contemporary struggles for racial justice at a moment when issues of racial inequality are once again the subject of national debate, especially after grand juries recently refused to indict white police officers for shooting unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York.

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African American Political Thought and American Culture: The Nation’s Struggle for Racial Justice by Alex Zamalin


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